ball the jack
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ball the jack
Speed up. Go fast. This phrase came from the American rail industry, in which a train was nicknamed a "jack," while "highball" meant to proceed. A: "Come on Tom, pick up the pace, ball the jack, let's move!" B: "Ugh, I can't run any faster this early in the morning!"
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
ball the jackgo fast; hurry. North American informal
The expression has its origins in US railway terminology, where highball is a signal to proceed and jack is a locomotive.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
balling the jack
To move rapidly. A “jack” was a railroad term for locomotive. “Ball” referred to the round electric signal that indicated the speed at which a train should travel. The fastest speed indicated by the signal was at its highest point, which indicated to an engineer that his locomotive could “highball it down the line.” Other trainmen would say the engineer was “balling the jack.” The phrase came into general usage from a 1913 ragtime song of the same name. The lyrics gave instructions to do a similarly named dance (“First you put your two knees close up tight, you swing 'em to the left and then you swing 'em to the right . . .”).
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price